Inbound14 Day One Highlights

I’m at Inbound14 this week in Boston attending HubSpot’s big annual content marketing conference. These are highlights from day one. Here are day two‘s!

Attempting to write a recap of Inbound 14 Day One highlights seems like an impossible task. There are over 150 speakers (of them, 25 are Best Selling Authors) so there’s no way to “be everywhere” at once. I can’t possibly bring you a sense of the knowledge bomb going off here. Instead, I’m going to try and give you a snapshot of the one thing that impacted me most each day.

Inbound 2014 Day 1

Day one at Inbound14 included Simon Sinek, Hubspot’s impressive product enhancements and their entry into a whole new product category. But the thing that stuck out for me was Dharmesh’s talk. Dharmesh Shah is the CTO at Hubspot. Brian Halligan may be the face of Hubspot, but Dharmesh seems to be the soul of Hubspot and he brought that soulful character to his talk about X-poential Growth. Dharmesh started off by echoing Daniel Burnham telling us to “Make bold plans.”

“Don’t shoot for 10% growth,” he told us, “Shoot for 2X, 5X, 10X growth.”

But this is not just growth for growth’s sake — there’s a purpose in it.

If you are a small company looking to get bigger, you can’t compete with money. There’s always someone willing to pay more for attention or for talent. To be a small player competing with 800 pound gorillas, you need to have something else to offer. Dharmesh believes that “something” is your culture.

In the years that Hubspot has been growing, they have religiously done quarterly employee surveys and have always looked for what drew people to work there as well as what made them stay. Over and over again, they found that it wasn’t the ping-pong tables, the free food, the casual atmosphere, or the social events. The #1 thing that drew excellent employees and kept them engaged was that they got to work with excellent, engaged people.

“The people you work with matter more than the perks you get. Peers > Beers.” – @Dharmesh [Tweet This]

So if you want to create a company full of really great people, you have to have really great people working on exciting breakthrough projects. You need a plan that will “stir souls” not for the thrill of it, but because it attracts people who want to achieve that kind of growth. As Dharmesh said, “You can’t get breakthrough results by playing by the rules. Great people want to win. You need to take bigger risks to get better people.”

Think about this for a minute: Playing it safe might be the riskiest thing you can do. Playing it safe may prevent you from attracting the top talent. It may mean that you are struggling along with mid-grade people and making pretty good products — but there’s nothing more difficult than that.

Need more?

Dharmesh and his team were nice enough to write down their insights about how make a better culture and they published it on their blog! They call it the Culture Code and it’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to read through.

Day One Inbound14

But wait — there was one other insight I will be thinking about for some time. This is an important concept, too.

We all know the average salary for developers has been skyrocketing for the last several years. While it’s true there are more things to program (so demand is up) Dharmesh posited that there was something deeper driving the salary increases. The work of a developer is highly leveraged. Once you create a piece of software, it can be used again by hundreds or millions of people. Their hours don’t produce value once — they produce value over and over again.

Dharmesh believes that Internet marketers may be in for a similar increase in demand and value. When you create a piece of content, optimize it, and it finds an audience, it can go on bringing in leads for years. On almost any website there are a few pieces of content that have consistently been bringing in traffic and leads month, after month, after month. If that’s the case, and if Internet marketers’ product can create value that goes far beyond the immediate impact, then the demand for their service and the salaries they earn should follow a similar growth curve. If you are learning Internet marketing, take heart!

There was so much more that happened at day one of Inbound14— I could go on and on. Simon Sinek brought his powerful message about the responsibility of leaders and there were terrific breakouts with lots of practical advice and knowledge, but Dharmesh’s words will be the ones echoing in my head for weeks to come.

Check back tomorrow when I will be listening to David Merman Scott, Malcolm Gladwell, and lots of other fantastic Inbound14 speakers.

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